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George Floyd Incident Creates an Opportunity to Strengthen Connections With Employees

I’ve been trying to be patient and thoughtful as I try to absorb the event and aftermath of George Floyd’s murder 3 days ago. Unfortunately, it has reached a point where being quiet, regardless of how one feels, is just not acceptable in this situation. Now is the time for people of goodwill and faith: black, white, brown etc. to stand up and speak up for what is an absolute injustice.

Riots have not historically served our communities well in our path to justice. Yet, I recognize this new generation feels even more strongly that it wants to be heard and is demanding change…now!!! And yes, that is exactly what we have taught our children during and post the civil rights era. We will never live that experience again.

All that being said, peaceful protests are required. More importantly, for those of us who are leading in corporate America as employees, community leaders, advisors or entrepreneurs, it is also a time that we no longer stand silent.

I started my career with Procter & Gamble and spent the first 25 years of my career in corporate and then senior leadership roles with other multinational companies focused on P&L’s and organizational performance as a GM.

Ten years ago, I decided to leave corporate America as an executive and become an Entrepreneur. I made this move so I could have more impact across organizations and focus on the people side of business.

For those of you who know my background, you know I have been trying to bring races together by focusing on doing the right thing since I was a 19 year old college student at Ole Miss.

I moved into human resources because I wanted to focus on the people side of the business. As an executive, I know how important it is that we are right with our people and culture to generate the best results.

Organizations can no longer hide behind the veil of not understanding how critical diversity, inclusion, civility and engagement (DICE) are in the workplace. The events we are witnessing today will most certainly carry over into the workplace whether overt or covert. As such, we as corporate and community leaders cannot turn a blind eye to it. I see these blind responses everyday in the work we do across hundreds of organizations.

I’m asking those of us who are or have been business or community leaders to use this opportunity to demonstrate to employees how important their voices are. And to demonstrate the necessary empathy to bring your organizations together.

Again, I call on my brothers and sisters: black, white, brown etc. as well as HR and Executive teams to start these conversations for the good of all of us in the workplace.

Just because you ignore it does not mean it will go away. This tragedy with George Floyd being killed in broad daylight, in plain sight, hits too deeply. It has touched every fabric of our society: business, religion, civic, social and our reputation as a country around the world. Now is the time for us to mourn because we are hurt and feel this pain. But now, as a US and global community of people of peace and goodwill, we will stop shedding our tears but make our voices heard for doing what’s is right in bringing all people together.

Let’s collectively use this opportunity to get to strategy and clarity of purpose at the corporate and board level so no employee ever thinks this is acceptable, regardless of color, background, career profession or position.

This is my ask and my prayer for all of us.

John Hawkins is the President and CEO of MPI Management Consulting dba MPI Consulting, a Cincinnati, Ohio based strategic consulting company. MPI Consulting (established in 1974) has 46 years of experience helping organizations improve their capability development by providing expertise in Strategic HR Consulting, Employee Relations, Labor Relations, Compensation/Total Rewards and Leadership Coaching and Front Line Manager Skills Training.

He is an internationally experienced executive, keynote speaker and corporate trainer. John has worked with hundreds of companies helping them to accelerate their business performance by improving their strategies, developing their people and developing pragmatic implementation.

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